The Norman Transcript

Sports

January 5, 2014

Red Wolves at home in Mobile

MOBILE, Ala. — Arkansas State keeps winning football games no matter who is on the sideline.

The Red Wolves (7-5) have become a regular at the GoDaddy Bowl, returning to Mobile for a third straight season. They will face Ball State (10-2) tonight at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Arkansas State has enjoyed its run of success despite constant change on the coaching staff. The Red Wolves have had four head coaches over the past four seasons and a fifth — former North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson — is set to take over after today’s game. Previous coach Bryan Harsin left the program for Boise State in December.

Fifth-year senior Ryan Carrethers has seen all of the coaches come and go. He concedes the turnover isn’t ideal, but it’s also taught the Red Wolves resiliency.

“We’ve learned over the past few years that we can always count on each other,” Carrethers said. “That’s a big reason we’ve been able to get so many victories.”

Compared to the Red Wolves, Ball State is a model of consistency. Third-year coach Pete Lembo has led the Cardinals to just their third 10-win season in program history.

Ball State is especially potent in the passing game. Arkansas State will counter with a strong defensive line, including the 6-foot-2, 330-pound Carrethers, who has four sacks this season.

Ball State hopes its defense can provide a few big plays, too. The Cardinals rank seventh in the country with 30 takeaways.

“That’s one of the big statistical factors going into this game,” Lembo said. “Arkansas State does a great job taking care of the ball and we’ve been good at causing turnovers. Something’s got to give on Sunday.”

More change at ASU: Arkansas State is in the midst of yet another coaching change — the program’s fourth in four offseasons. The Red Wolves have handled the transition well each time and interim coach John Thompson also coached the team last year in Mobile when it beat Kent State. Thompson expects a similar effort today.

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